SWEET RELIEF: 200k mangoes donated amid drought crisis
A MANGO grower from outside of Gympie, and drought runners from Rainbow Beach have joined forces to help communities in the southwest, by giving away 200,000 of the delicious fruits for free to residents of drought-hit towns.
Crates of the fresh fruits arrived in Dulacca, Yuleba, Wallumbilla, Roma, Mitchell, Mungallala, and Morven on Wednesday, with residents from the towns and surrounds welcome to take as many as they would like until supply ran out.
"It started with a phone call from someone at Rainbow Beach, who had been speaking with a local mango grower (at nearby Goomboorian), who was looking to donate them to charity" Rainbow Beach Drought Runners co-ordinator Tony Stewart said.
"We were the first group to get involved and receive them, and the grower had something like 200,000 mangoes.
"The first shipment has gone out today, and our team are going out as far as Morven tonight; other loads today have gone to Wondai and Biloela, and then on Friday we will go to Stanthorpe.
"They are there for people in drought mainly, and townspeople - whoever wants them, really.
"We are distributing them any way we can, but we are not selling them"
Through their contacts, the Rainbow Beach Drought Runners have gotten in touch with local businesses to serve as depots for their tonnes of fruit, and are getting CWA branches on board to make long-lasting staples like mango chutney to send out to properties further afield.
In Roma, local business Outback Smoke and Slice is housing the town's crate of mangoes.
For the specialty meat and barbecue shop, being asked to become a temporary mango depot was unexpected, but a welcome way to connect with locals.
"It's a great way to help in the community, I think," business owner Kelvin Honnely said.
"All I've had to do is give away the free mangoes, and people just kind of help themselves to what they need."
The bulk mango delivery isn't the first time the Rainbow Beach Drought Runners have visited the southwest.
Their team of volunteers has been quietly lending a hand for years, including a recent toy run to rural families at Christmas.
"This is my fifth year with the Drought Runners," Mr Stewart said.
"We have travelled through Roma and Mitchell a lot of times, fuelling up on our way through to places like Morven and also Longreach, where I have done about 20 runs myself.
"Usually we take food packs to farmers, and also vouchers for things like fuel and to help pay rates and bills.
"Most recently, just before Christmas, we took about 400 presents to Longreach, Morven, Mitchell, and Warwick, dropping them at the schools before the kids broke up for the year."
In the near future, the drought runners are hoping to return to the southwest with some of their usual donations, and also more mangoes for locals.
Fancy a few mangoes? Locals can still pick them up at:
Dulacca - The Pink Pub
Yuleba - Yuleba General Store
Wallumbilla - Federal Hotel
Mitchell - Hotel Richards
Mungallala - Mungallala Hotel
Morven - Morven Truck Stop
Note: All mangoes at Outback Smoke and Slice in Roma have been claimed.